A grow­ing pas­sion

The Northland Age - - Local News - By Peter de Graaf

For the first time in a life lived in and out of prison, Joseph Hura says all he wants when he gets up each day is to work — and to stop young men tak­ing the path he fol­lowed.

Hura, who was re­leased from jail five weeks ago af­ter serv­ing a 10-year sen­tence, is one of 20 Mid North men tak­ing part in a “learn while you earn” ma¯ nuka plant­ing pro­gramme.

They will work to­wards level two forestry qual­i­fi­ca­tions while turn­ing an iwi’s un­der-used land into an as­set pro­duc­ing ma¯ nuka honey and oil plus car­bon cred­its, while re­turn­ing the land to na­tive veg­e­ta­tion.

Hura, 42, said he did a short forestry course be­fore his re­lease.

“I learnt how to use a chain­saw and I re­ally liked cut­ting the logs up and that power un­der­neath my hands. So when I got re­leased I asked if there was a job in Kaikohe for me, prefer­ably to do with forestry.”

How­ever, Hura said his real pas­sion was to work with ran­gatahi (youth) and share his ex­pe­ri­ence of pulling out of gangs and “stay­ing off the crack”.

Nga¯ Ma¯ huri o Nga¯ ti Hine (the saplings of Nga¯ ti Hine) is a two-year pro­gramme to plant 200ha of Nga¯ ti Hine Forestry Trust land in ma¯ nuka. A sec­ond course, start­ing in 2020, will see an­other 20 trainees hired and the to­tal plant­ings brought up to al­most 500ha.

The trainees are a mix of school leavers and older men who have strug­gled to find work or di­rec­tion.

Nga¯ Ma¯ huri o Nga¯ ti Hine was launched at Otiria Marae in Mo­erewa last Mon­day.

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